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1094Technical Virtuosity and the New Mobility Agenda

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  • Eric Britton
    Jun 25, 2009

      We are gathering materials and views on this important topic for World Streets piece, and would be very glad to have your comments and suggestions.


      We also would be interested to discuss additional articles on this topic if you have any thoughts for us.


      Thanks so much and I do hope you find some use in this,


      Eric Britton





      Technical Virtuosity and the New Mobility Agenda


      We have long believed that there can be no giant steps in the New Mobility Agenda and all that it entails unless we find a way to engage and enter into new partnerships with a new generation of thinking and practice by our technical transportation colleagues: the engineers, planners, modelers and technicians who hold the key to the transformation process.


      Without them we cannot sufficiently envisage the future, the different futures that this or that new policy or service might bring about. And we have also seen that people will not vote for or go along with a future that they cannot envisage.


      In many cases over the last years there has been a tendency of the greenest of our sustainability contemporaries to lambast the technicians almost systematically for "not doing their job", and in the process emerging as impediments rather than facilitators of the transition process. Now there is often something to that on a case by case basis, but the past is not the mirror of the future . . . fortunately.


      Stories abound about how this or that technical or regulatory unit refused to consider any variants from the older standards and practices, thus scuttling innovations from the outset. Often even for demo or pilot projects, the goals of which include in fact experimenting with different rations and practices as a stepping stone to broader reforms. A typical oft-cites example has been the rigorous upholding of long established parking ratios, despite the fact that the underlying conditions are now clearly different from the past. And there have been many others like this.


      So we need their help to be credible, and to succeed. And fortunately there is a huge new toolkit which they have been developing in universities, consulting practices and government agencies at the leading edge over the last decade which are now ready for prime time. Some of these tools are very complex and costly to make work (much of the cost being in the development of the necessary technical databases), but many of them can be of great use even though they have modest data and processing requirements.


      A final thought concerning the new generation of our technical colleagues who are now coming into full maturity, and that has to do with their own transportation practices in their daily lives. There are far more of them who are personally addicted (the word is not too strong) to walking, biking, ridesharing, carsharing, slugging, public transit and other forms of non-solo driver transport for getting to work and in other parts of their lives as well. It is of course far easier to work with such people than someone whose only source of daily transport is their car, and was also often the case for their bosses . . . and their bosses’ bosses. So to the extent we are already seeing a cultural change well in process, this makes the new partnership that much easier to achieve.


      So with this in view, World Streets welcomes articles on tools and practices at the leading edge of the technical fraternity for publication and discussion in these pages. If you have any ideas, all you have to do is get in touch with our editor, as follows:


      Eric Britton | Editor | editor@... |World Streets | | +331 4326 1323 | Skype newmobility 


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